New name, historic reopening await Del. Museum of Natural History next spring

Editor’s note: Open Call is a weekly column in which we ask arts and cultural leaders to share their perspectives on emerging from the COVID-19 crisis and welcoming back audiences.

This year was intended to be a year of major metamorphosis for the Delaware Museum of Natural History, long before COVID temporarily closed our doors.

For several years, planning for a total renovation and reimagining of our exhibits, galleries and public spaces has been underway, funded by a $9.8 million capital campaign. Our building closed in December 2020, and we will reopen in spring 2022 as the Delaware Museum of Nature & Science.

Meanwhile, our mission — to investigate nature and science, preserve and interpret our collections, conduct scientific research, and inspire people of all ages to a lifetime of exploration and discovery — continues, virtually and out in the community.

While our staff already was preparing for closure, the pandemic accelerated the need to develop virtual and offsite programs. In addition to creating fun online events such as live animal presentations and storytime, we developed virtual education programs for schools that reached thousands of students in the area.

Live bird shows are offered with Phung Luu of Animal Behavior & Conservation Connections through Delaware Museum of Natural History.

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Among these programs are new STEM programs for middle school students supporting school curriculum and Next Generation Science Standards. Sponsored by DuPont, these programs reached 818 middle school students from underserved schools and included interaction with DuPont scientists who offered real-life perspective about STEM careers.